Built from scratch by John A. Hern Jr. begining in 1971, Hern Iron Works has been casting quality grey iron castings from day one. John’s interest in foundry work came about from working at a local foundry in Spokane, Washington as a teenager as well as casting bullets for reloading ammunition. After earning a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Washington, John returned home to Spokane to settle down. With the mentoring of his father Jack Hern Sr., John purchased and cleared land in the more business friendly neighboring town and state of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho . The building was commenced and equipment was purchased from around the country from foundries that had gone to auction. Early on John had a personal hand in all the plant layout, design, equipment repair, and updating; and operation of the foundry.
Work began with a small crew of three employees, and the first sale was of Six sets of manhole rings and covers to a general contractor in Spokane, Washington, in the amount of $176.13 in October of 1972. John’s son Jack A.Hern III grew up playing on the property while under construction and started work in the foundry by the time he was 12. At 18, Jack was serving as Foreman in the foundry. Today John has passed away, and Jack has successfully transitioned the family business to the second generation.
One of the first major turning points in the business came in 1974 when John bought out Washington Machinery and Supply, a foundry in Spokane that dated back to the late 1890’s. From this purchase came our major industrial product lines of Sprockets, Gears, Boiler grates, and anything iron in a sawmill . Over the years we have continued to buy up foundries that were in similar work. Succeeding Western Foundry Co. of Portland Oregon, and Soule Steam Feed Works of Meridian Mississippi, to name a few.
Stemming from John’s interest in guns, reloading, and shooting – combined with his new foundry came the idea of casting Civil War era Historical Reproduction Cannons. What started as a few similar sized barrels produced for himself an a few friends has grown to over two dozen different barrels from 10 pounds to 2200 pounds, and near 20% of our annual sales!
Today we have onsite our offices, a full Pattern shop, Machine shop, and Iron Foundry.
In summation, Hern Iron Works prides itself on being a family run job shop where we can work with you and your ideas to produce a quality cast iron product. To keep your business running or to keep your battlements from being over run!